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Amazon to make Lord of the Rings in multi-season deal

amazonvideo11-e1441402984333Amazon has secured the global TV rights to JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, with a multi-season commitment for an Amazon Studios-produced series based on the fantasy novels.

Separately, Amazon is reported to be mulling the launch of an advertising-supported TV offering to complement its SVOD service.

Amazon Studios will produce the Amazon Prime Original in cooperation with the he Tolkien estate and Trust, HarperCollins and Warner Bros-owned New Line Cinema, the studio behind the movies based on the novels.

With this acquisition, Amazon is attempting to create a franchise with the same global resonance as HBO’s own fantasy blockbuster Game of Thrones or Netflix’s Stranger Things. According to US reports, Amazon may have paid as much as US$250 million for the rights.

Earlier this year, New Line Cinema and the Tolkien estate settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit over profit participation for the movies.

The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen. We are honoured to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series, Amazon Studios.

“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings. Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on JRR Tolkien’s original writings,” said Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins.

Separately, Ad Age has reported that Amazon is developing a free-advertising-supported offering to complement its Prime Video subscription video-on-demand service.

According to the report, Amazon is in talks with TV network, movie studios and other media companies about securing content for a new ad-supported service. The service would likely focus on back-catalogue content, including kids and lifestyle fare, according to the report.

Amazon has already experimented with advertising around its streaming of NFL American football games. However, a more extensive advertising-supported offering would pitch it into competition with other internet giants such as Google and Facebook, with its recently launched Watch service.